Simple Art of Cooking: A Tale of Two Salmon

Sagaponack and Soho resident Susan Meisel wears many hats.

She’s a food photographer, caterer and real estate broker who plays tennis, loves walking on the beach—and give her a reason to have a party—she will cook up a storm.

And cook up a storm she did one recent Friday evening for a dinner she and her husband, Louis, gave for guests following a magnificent piano recital given by Stephen Lin for the Salon Series at the Parrish Art Museum. Susan and Louis are also a patrons of the arts. On this pleasantly warm October evening guests gathered at an outdoor buffet to choose from no less than 10 platters of deliciousness from grilled rare beef, to rosy pink salmon with heirloom tomatoes, to pasta, to salads, to vegetables—there was something for everyone. Dessert could, hopefully, be another column!

I recently revisited roast salmon with Swiss chard from my cookbook, Savoring the Hamptons, and oh, it was so good. Salmon is one of our most popular fish, and did you know that it is our most ancient gourmet food? Its bones have been found in the caves of Old Stone Age man in southern Europe. A graphic tribute by a caveman is a bas-relief sculpted in the floor of the Grotto du Poisson near Les Eyzies, France. By the Middle Ages in Europe, the salmon was not just a source of nourishment but a spectacular display at banquet tables. This is how I viewed Susan’s whole baked salmon filet, striking with its topping of halved slices of sweet yellow heirloom tomatoes—perfect for a crowd—or for two.

For my roast salmon with Swiss chard, the individual are topped with grated ginger and shallot, Dijon mustard and seasonings—then roasted and served with farm fresh Swiss chard sauté. Perfect for dinner from 4 to 6 servings. There are several distinct species of salmon and when possible I prefer to work with naturally raised king salmon.

SUSAN MEISEL’S FOIL WRAPPED SALMON WITH SOY, LEMON AND HONEY

Easy to prepare with the simplest ingredients and delicious to eat. The recipe is mistake-free and works for any size salmon.—S.M.

Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 to 2 1/2 skinless salmonfilets
Heavy duty aluminum foil
Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt*
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons honey
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar in the raw
Yellow heirloom tomatoes, sliced and halved, if available
Or serve with tzatziki (Greek yogurt-cucumber sauce), if desired

Preheat oven to 400°F

1. Wash the salmon and pat dry with paper towel. Place a sheet of foil on your counter, large enough to cover the entire filet over the top and sides. Sprinkle the filet with the salt on both sides.

2. In a bowl measure the soy, honey and lemon juice and stir to mix. Pour half the mixture on the sheet of foil and place the filet over the liquid. Pour remaining liquid over the top and sprinkle length of filet with the sugar in the raw. Enclose the salmon in the foil and tightly wrap. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

3. To serve, open the foil along the top and place sliced tomato halves, next to one another, over the filet. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Susan refers to Jane’s Krazy Salt as a “miracle product.” It can be found in the spice section of most supermarkets.

Note: I prepared a 1-pound piece of salmon to test the recipe. It worked like a charm and I had delicious leftovers the next day. —S.L.

ROAST SALMON FILLET WITH SWISS CHARD*

To heighten the mild flavor of salmon, top it with a savory seasoned crust, bake, and serve on a bed of Swiss chard—an agreeable accompaniment.

Yield: 6 servings

1 large bunch Swiss chard (about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
2 to 2 1/2 pounds center-cut skinless salmon fillet, preferably king salmon
1 large shallot, finely minced
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 heaping tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice

1. Remove the stems from the chard. Wash and spin dry the leaves and stems separately. Stack the leaves and cut crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips. Trim the stem ends and cut into 11/2-inch lengths.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

2. Cut the salmon into 6 equal pieces and place in a lightly greased baking pan. Combine the shallot, ginger, mustard, thyme, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and stir to mix and marinate for about 20 to 30 minutes. Spread the mixture evenly over each salmon filet to coat and marinate about 20 minutes. Roast the filets for 8 to 10 minutes or until springy to the touch.

3. When ready to serve, heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and sauté for about 1 minute or until translucent. Add the Swiss chard stems and toss to coat and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until the stems are crisp tender. Add the leaves and sauté for two to three minutes longer or until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle on the lemon juice and toss to mix. Divide the mixture among six warm dinner plates. Arrange the salmon filets over the sautéed chard along with roasted or boiled new potatoes, if desired.

*Reprinted from Silvia Lehrer’s Savoring the Hamptons: Discovering the Food and Wine of Long Island’s East End.

For Silvia’s blogs and more recipes, visit savoringthehamptons.com.

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